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Posts Tagged ‘MPAA’

Update: Back to the Futures!

June 23rd, 2010 No comments

Back in late April we wrote about the future of Box Office Futures, especially in terms of the grandiose plans by two investment firms to open their own Futures Exchanges based on Box Office Futures Contracts. At the time, Hollywood was only just  beginning to chime in with its opposition, and has done so loudly and constantly ever since via its studios, labor unions, guilds and the Motion Picture Association of America. The end result has been draft legislation by the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has statutory control of  futures, that will ban the sale of box office derivative financial contracts, or B.O. futures.

The two financial firms involved, Cantor Fitzgerald of New York and Veriana’s  ‘Media Derivatives’ of Indiana, have lobbied hard for their plans, but they are seen as fighting an uphill battle against Hollywood’s well-oiled influence machine. But there may be hope yet in (and for) their futures: earlier this month, the Federal Commodities and Futures Trading Commission approved the first ever Box Office contract, for Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems release “Takers,” which opens August 20th. Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, remains adamant that a ban inserted in pending legislation will stop any B.O. futures trading. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), Veriana topper Robert Swagger has stated that its planned exchange, called Trend Exchange, should be allowed to sell futures based on “Takers” because that contract received federal approval prior to any ban being officially enacted, thus it should be ‘grandfathered in’ even if a bill including a ban on selling futures is signed into law by the President.

 

It’s a sneaky – and not altogether unsound – argument. While the Senate version of the financial reform bill features a ban on Box Office futures trading, the House version does not, and the two versions must be reconciled before passing to the President. So perhaps the Trend Exchange has a chance. But don’t count Hollywood out. After all, when the chips are down and things are looking grim, Hollywood has a habit of having the cavalry ride to the rescue…

This Just In – Bob Kerrey to head MPAA

May 21st, 2010 No comments

Breaking News:

Former Nebraska Senator and past Debra Winger boyfriend Bob Kerrey has been tapped to run the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Hollywood’s lobbying arm, replacing interim leader Bob Pisano, who himself stepped in to run the organization when topper Dan Glickman resigned after five years on the job. Bob Kerrey is a Vietnam veteran (and Medal of Honor winner) and well-respected in the Hollywood community. The heads of the studios that comprise the MPAA, Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount have all signed-off on the choice of Kerrey. As one source stated: “The job is his to lose.”

Kerrey is a good choice to represent Hollywood in Washington (and elsewhere). As head of the MPAA, he has big shoes to fill: although Glickman left a slight legacy, the real icon of the MPAA is the late Jack Valenti, who ran the MPAA for 38 years and created the modern-day ratings system that the movies, TV and cable use to this day. A former staffer to President Lyndon Johnson, Valenti was a formidable presence and considered one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington in his time. He was short in stature, but his Texan tenacity got him places few of us rarely see. I met him only once, at a screening at the MPAA headquarters in Washington, D.C.; he was impressive – and the only person I saw violate the ‘no eating’ rule in the theater – he brought in popcorn. I’m sure he’d earned the privilege. 

But now the torch passes to Bob Kerrey, and Hollywood’s hopes are high that this charismatic war hero and 9/11 Commission member will elevate Hollywood’s reputation and sufficiently represent its product. Given the studios’ endorsements and a general feeling that Kerrey can come across for the film industry, ‘For Bards’ blog wishes him the very best of luck. It’s a tough economy out there – and, as Hollywood has taught us, movies are your greatest entertainment value.